16 December 2012

Jen Turano Interviewed by Carrie Fancett Pagels

Jen Turano

Jen Turano is the author of A Change of Fortune and of a novella, Gentleman of Her Dreams.

Jen, welcome to Overcoming Through Time – With God’s Help.  We appreciate your willingness to share your testimony of overcoming with our readers. 

Would you tell us about the most difficult thing in your life you have had to overcome, with God’s help?
God has helped me overcome many trying times throughout my life, from watching my mother die of a brain tumor, to dealing with relationship issues, and to even overcoming financial disasters at times.  However, none of those situations seemed to want to come out on this page.  What did want to come out was something relatively small that happened recently, but something I believe God wants me to share in the hopes that others will be reminded of what He expects from us.

This past summer was incredibly hot in Colorado and by the time August hit, tempers were short and people were edgier than usual.  I freely admit that I was in a miserable frame of mind.  Besides being hot, a huge hail storm had done extensive damage to my house, and I felt as if I’d spent the entire summer dealing with insurance claims, shifty roofers, and painters who simply couldn’t fit me into their busy schedules.  I was out and about running errands and swung into McDonald’s because one of the items on my list was to pick up a particular burger for my son.  There were fifteen cars waiting at the drive-thru, so with annoyance humming through me, I parked and dodged traffic to get into the restaurant.  An elderly man pulled my attention for a brief moment, but before I could contemplate why he’d caught my interest, an argument at the counter distracted me.  A man was yelling about his chicken being late, and my annoyance began to fade as sympathy for the poor girl behind the counter took over.  By the time it was my turn, the girl was definitely frazzled.  I placed my order, sent her a smile, got my food, and bolted for the door.  I got to my car, and for some reason, checked the bag, annoyance creeping over me once again when I realized half my order wasn’t there.  I trudged back in, reminded myself that the girl who’d taken care of me was my son’s age, pushed my irritation aside, and forced a smile as I asked for the remainder of my food.  After apologizing profusely, the girl handed me a new bag and four pies for my inconvenience.  Wondering what I was going to do with the pies, I headed back out the door, and…that’s when it happened.

The older gentleman I’d noticed before was limping away, and that’s when I realized he was wearing a puffy winter coat in the midst of a heat wave, clutching his coffee cup in one hand, and…dragging a garbage bag behind him with the other.  He was a homeless man, and right then and there, my world shifted.
My feet began to move almost without me realizing it, and before I knew it, I’d caught up with him.  I cleared my throat to catch his attention, and when he turned, I was mesmerized by the most beautiful eyes I’d ever seen.  A natural smile curved my lips as I held out the pies to him, and it took everything I had to keep smiling when his eyes misted with tears.  He tilted his head and considered me for a long moment, shifted his coffee cup to the hand holding the garbage bag, and then, very hesitantly, took the pies from me.

“God bless you,” was all he said before he turned and limped away.
I made it back to the car before the tears came, and I’m not a woman who cries easily, but I cried all the way home, and then continued crying for the rest of the afternoon.  Gone was the annoyance I’d felt for so long, replaced with shame over the fact that I’d allowed myself to get so involved with the little petty things of life, that I’d forgotten to see what was really important…people and compassion.

God sent me a reminder that clearly showed me it didn’t matter if my roofers were less than proficient, because at least I had a roof over my head.  He wanted me to see how self-absorbed I’d become, and He’d done so in a way I couldn’t ignore.

I’ve told relatively few people what happened that day, but for some reason, one I’m quite certain has God’s hand all over it, I’m supposed to share this with all of you.  Perhaps God wants everyone to remember what’s really important in life, and that we need to push aside the smallness that seems to consume many of us, and remember what’s really important.

As I’ve thought about that homeless man, I can’t help but think that perhaps God sent me one of His angels in order to get me back on track.

Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. – Hebrews 13:2


What is your favorite bible verse and why?
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it.”  Isaiah 30:21

This is my favorite bible verse because it rings true for me.  Every time I’ve dithered over a decision, I feel God nudging me in a certain direction, and when I actually act on that nudge, fabulous things have happened.

Gentleman of HerDreams

Disability friendliness: Is this latest release available in audio format or do you have any other works available on audio?  Do your e-books have audio capability? Do you have any in large print?  
At this time, there are some publishers interested in large print rights, but nothing has been verified just yet.
A Change of Fortune

What has been the most important thing you hope your readers will get from your books and why?
I want readers to be entertained by my stories.  Life is difficult these days, and there’s nothing more enjoyable than picking up a book and escaping from the world, if only for a few hours.  My greatest hope is that I might, perhaps, even be responsible for a few grins along the way.


As you researched your books, did you learn anything that particularly touched your heart?
I found a riveting article concerning the sewage problem in the stews of New York City.  Refuse simply piled up in the streets, and I found pictures of children standing by piles of what looked like slop.  Disease was rampant because of the lack of sanitation, and I couldn’t help but wonder how it would feel to be a mother and not be able to provide your children with a clean place to live.

In this latest work, do you have any topics useful for bibliotherapy, or therapeutic influence through reading about a disorder or situation?  
Not really – the story is pretty much a light-hearted romp.

Thank you Jen for agreeing to answer these questions.  Have a blessed day and keep on writing!!
Thank you for having me.  It was a lot of fun, even if writing about the homeless man left me in tears again.

Jen's books can be purchased through CBD, Amazon, and other book retailers.

GIVEAWAY: A copy of Jen's book will be given away to one of our commenters this week.  Extra counts given to readers who swing by Colonial quills to read our Frontier Forted Fiction Holiday anthology. Put FFH after your comment and the number(s) of those you have read to get extra counts in the giveaway!

Question: Have you had something happen to you that God used to show you how self-absorbed you have become? 

61 comments:

  1. JEN welcome to OWG, thank you so much for sharing that story with us, it certainly touched my heart. I'm so glad you listened to that still small voice that knew just what you needed. :)

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  2. So glad to have Jen with us this week even though we knew it could be a slow one due to the holidays. But we'll be here. Heck--I will break out the eggnog and cookies--chocolates, peppermint, brownies, let's celebrate!

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    1. WOOHOO CARRIE that sounds yummy! I have't been well enough to start my Christmas cooking so all that sounds wonderful!! :)

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    2. Hey I will take some of those goodies! They sound so yummy! But, no eggnog for me, I'd prefer some coffee with French Vanilla creamer. :)

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    3. I can't have the eggnog unless it is made with goat's milk or something else, Debbie! But yeah, here have some coffee with French creamer (which I ACTUALLY do have on hand lol!)

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  3. Thank you for being with us this week on OWG, JEN! I enjoyed this touching interview very much. And you are so right on about sweating the little things and placing too much importance in them; I do it habitually. :( When my husband's sister was dying at the age of 43 from a spinal cord tumor, she said that the things we think are so important are not important at all. And she's right...and I need to quit sweating the small stuff. Thanks for sharing this with us, JEN.

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  4. Thank you so much, ladies, for having me on your blog this week. It is certainly an honor, and I'm so glad my story touched all of you.

    ~JEN

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  5. Hey Jen, great post! It really touched my heart. I, too, have met someone who reminded me that there are people who have it a lot worse than I do. There is a man, his name it Bob (his real name)who lives on the streets of my old town, Anderson, Ca. I would see him come into the soup kitchen while it was still open. It was closed down, due to permit issues. After that, I would see him outside the local Dollar Store, one that I frequented a lot. My husband and I got to know Bob, what little he would tell us, and we would give him food, coffee and spare change. When my husband lost his job and we had to move away, I went to see Bob one last time. There he was, sitting outside of the Dollar Tree as usual. It broke my heart, the thought of not seeing Bob again, not knowing what will happen to him. I explained why we had to move and told him goodbye. I gave him a bag of cans and some change. He put out his hand, as if he wanted to shake my hand, but instead he turned my hand and kissed it. He said that I was a sweet lady and then thanked me. My heart melted. I walked away and I have prayed for Bob ever since then. I don't know where he is or what he is doing. With this cold weather, it really tears at my heart, but I have to give him to God, along with all of the homeless out there. Sorry, I am rambling on. You really sparked something in me. God bless and have a very Merry Christmas!

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    1. Dear DEBBIE,

      Thank you so much for sharing your story. I'm sure it was very difficult for you to leave Bob, but know that your kindness to him improved his life. I'm sure God is watching out for him and appreciates all that you did for Bob.

      Have a wonderful Christmas!

      ~ JEN

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    2. I forgot to put my email and say that I have read the entire anthology so far. debsbunch5@jesusanswers.com FFH I would really love to win your newest book. And thank you for your kind words, Jen, I truly appreciate it. :)

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    3. Debbie, that is so sweet. Keep praying for him, you never know the difference those prayers make!

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    4. Oh I pray for him all the time, especially when the weather is really hot or really cold. :)

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  6. Great inteview and thanks for the giveaway!
    I really enjoyed Gentleman of Her Dreams and would love to win Jen's latest novel, A Change of Fortune.

    Vacationing in one of the poorest countries in South America has been such eye opening experience. After witnessing such poverty and seeing children work all day and night, it just makes me so much more thankful for what God has given me and my family.

    arieljo12(at)hotmail(dot)com

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    1. Thanks! We are so glad to host Jen and offer this giveaway! I have heard the same thing many times, including from my hubby, about how fortunate we are to live in the USA. Blessings!

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    2. Thank you so much for stopping by, J.GRACE. I'm delighted you enjoyed Gentleman of Her Dreams, and yes, seeing people living in poverty does make us appreciate so much more what we've been given.

      Have a Merry Christmas!

      ~ JEN ~

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  7. Wow, this is one of the most emotional posts I think I have read on here. As I was reading Jen's account of the homeless man and how God put her in that situation to show her what her blessings were, I am reminded of the tragedy this past Friday in how it relates to me. I talk often about losing my daughter this year but I have been reflecting on that more since Friday. At least I had four days to sit by her bedside and say my goodbyes, holding her and comforting her as she passed from my arms to Jesus'. She wasn't snatched from me in a senseless moment of violence or without anyone there to hold her. I was truly blessed! My heart is so heavy for these mom's and dad's. My cry is to the Lord for his overwhelming presence to be felt by them.

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    1. Dear ANNE,

      I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. I cannot even imagine the sorrow you've experienced over the past year. My prayers will be with you and your family.

      Wishing you peace,

      ~ JEN ~

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    2. Anne, you are exactly right to thank God that He gave you the gift of time with Amy before the end. I am so grateful I got to see my mom one last time before she died and as crazy as it sounds I am glad I saw her in the death rattles and was there so action could be taken and she was given meds to ease her suffering and she went miraculously fast after that--they said it could be days and I couldn't stand the thought of her suffering like that.

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    3. I had the honor of being with my mom in her last hours too. It really is a gift!

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  8. I sure enjoyed this interview. And,, Jen, I sometimes how many Angels unaware that we might miss along the way. Carrie, the main thing of that comes to me is, as I complain about the health problems I have , then it just comes to me that it could be much worse for I could be paralyzed and not feel the pain then I'm reminded that my problems aren't so bad. And, tho much needs repaired to my house, then I see the conditions that some others live in, or don't have a roof over their head at all. Then I give thanks that I live in this country, Have a roof over my head, a car to get me where I need to go, and the food and clothes I need. Makes you take a second look at things. ( FFH ) I have read all available at this time which is 6. (do we get to count rereads? LOL I would like to win Jen's book. A new author for me. MAXIE ( mac262@me.com )

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    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed the interview. It realy is easy to dwell on our problems, but we are fortunate to live in this country, and sometimes we just need that little reminder of our blessings.

      I hope you have a very Merry Christmas!

      All the best,

      ~ JEN ~

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  9. Thank you, Jen, for sharing the story of your encounter at McDonald's. A huge thing that happened to me that showed me how self-absorbed I'd become was being divorced by my husband. Even now, six or so years later, I have to watch myself to not get to feeling self-absorbed by my problems, but to look outside myself to what others need.
    I love reading "light-hearted romps" so Jen's books would be perfect for me. I do use reading to "escape" from the world for awhile.
    pmk56[at]sbcglobal[dot]net

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    1. Dear PAM,

      It's really difficult to not become self-absorbed, isn't it? I'm sure your divorce was incredibly hard on you, but I hope you're recovering from it.

      A Change of Fortune is definitely quirky, and my wish is that readers will be able to find that escape.

      Merry Christmas!

      ~ JEN ~

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  10. Yes seeing homeless people or people that have a rough time in life breaks my heart and makes me realize how good I have it in life. makeighleekyleigh at yahoo.com

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    1. Dear MEGAN,

      Thank you for leaving a comment, and I wish you a very Merry Christmas!

      All the best,

      ~ JEN ~

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  11. I recently read "Gentleman of Her Dreams" and thoroughly enjoyed it. It had me laughing out loud earning me strange looks from my husband and kiddos LOL. My only complaint was it was over way too quickly. I truly would have enjoyed a leisurely visit with the characters from this novella. I look forward to reading more by Jen Turano. Enter me to win a copy of her book please and thank you :D

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    1. Dear LOUISE,

      It's fabulous to learn you enjoyed Gentleman of Her Dreams. You'll be happy to hear that Charlotte makes a return in book four - I absolutely adore her and felt she needed more time on the page.

      Merry Christmas!

      ~ JEN ~

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  12. Jen, thank you for sharing your story and that powerful message. I needed to hear it and could feel God speaking to me through your words. I believe it very likely that you were visited by an angel! I also love the scripture you chose; I don't remember ever hearing it before, but I won't forget it now that I have. And I'd like to add that I have read both Jen's novella and her novel. They are both wonderful and I highly recommend them!

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    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed the interview, LISA, and you must know how much I appreciate all of your support:)

      Have a wonderful Christmas!

      ~ JEN ~

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    2. LISA!!! Thanks for recommending Jen to us and we are so glad to have her. She is a gracious guest!

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  13. JEN, thank you for sharing your experience with the homeless man with us. It really touched my heart. God has such beautiful ways to talk to us.

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    1. Thank you, MARIAN! God does have beautiful ways to talk to us - I just need to remember to listen.

      Wishing you all the best and a very Merry Christmas!

      ~ JEN ~

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  14. Thanks for sharing Jen, whenever I get fed up with my circumstances, I always remind myself that they're fairly inconsequential. Being content as an American seems to be a hard thing to do but when compared to the rest of the world it should be rather easy.

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    1. I agree, Melissa, we are so spoiled here. I love being an American.

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    2. You're certainly right about that, MELISSA. It should be easy, but I readily admit I have to remind myself often of what I have, instead of dwelling all too often on what I don't.

      Thank you for stopping by, and wishing you a Merry Christmas and fabulous New Year!

      ~ JEN ~

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  15. Just hearing about people who have it so much tougher than I is a constant wake-me-up, to quit my pity party and be grateful! I've heard great things about your books! FFH-all six! shopgirl152nykiki(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Thank you, VERONICA, and may I just say that I always wanted my name to be Veronica instead of Jennifer:) Hmm...I might have to make a note of that, and you might find me using your name in a future book.

      Have a wonderful Christmas!

      ~ JEN ~

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  16. About two yrs ago at Christmas time I was in Dollar General buying some gift bags for presents. They had some really sparkly, beautiful gold and silver ones at the top and I could barely reach them. I had to stretch, and in doing so pulled alot of the bags down with me. At the same time a feeble, old woman with a very wrinkled face, probably in her eighties, blocked my way from picking up the bags. She bent down as easily as a teenager and picked up every one of those bags and as stooped and feeble as she was, easily put them on that top shelf. Then as I profusely thanked her, she turned to me with eyes that shone like stars and just nodded her head. She walked away from me and turned back around with her shining eyes burning straight into me and said, "You have a very blessed Christmas and New Year." I said thank you, but was almost too mesmerized to say anything.

    She went into the next aisle, but I had to find her! Find out who she was, where she went to church b/c I felt His presence all around me! She wasn't there. I ran down every aisle in the store -- not there. Asked the cashier -- no one fitting that description had just checked out. The store was small, where could she have gone so quickly. I checked the store again. Nothing. As I got in my car I turned the radio on and this song was playing, "I believe there are angels among us, they wear so many faces, show up in the strangest places; grace us with their mercy in our time of need," and I was covered in goose bumps from head to toe as I am right now. I had never heard that song in my life -- now I listen to it on you tube occasionally to remind me of that day I KNOW I was blessed by an angel. I had a peace the whole rest of that day that totally surpassed my understanding. God is awesome, folks!

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    1. That's a wonderful story, DIANA, and I have to tell you, the gentleman I encountered had eyes that were so blue I can't properly describe them, but as you said, they mesmerized me.

      Have a wonderful Christmas!

      All the best,

      ~ Jen ~

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    2. Wow, Diana, that gave me Holy Ghost bumps! What a cool visitation!

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    3. I get them every time I think of it, CARRIE! Why God chose an angel to visit me at that time I'll never know -- but I'm sure it has happened to all of us many times and we were simply unaware.

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    4. Wow also Diana! What a wonderful story! I've got chills and tears! How like our wonderful and Loving God to be concerned even with helping us out in these small ways. His love knows no bounds, that story just blesses me so much..

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    5. Diana, what an incredible experience. I love hearing stories like this! And how encouraging to know that angels are around us, even at times we would not expect them to be.

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  17. That is kind of a hard question that makes you stop and think. Sometimes when I see something bad that has happened in the world it makes me stop and think that my problems are not so bad and maybe I should not complain because things could be worse.

    griperang at embarqmail dot com

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    1. Thank you for leaving a comment, ANGELA, and it was a thought-provoking question, wasn't it?

      Hope you have a wonderful Christmas!

      All the best,

      ~ JEN ~

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  18. Great to see you on OWG, JEN! I LOVE your stories!!! When, a couple months back I read 'Gentleman of Her Dreams', I enjoyed it so much that upon immediately finishing it, I purchased 'A change of Fortune', and read that just as quick as it was impossible to put down also!! :)

    Thoroughly enjoyed reading the interview too JEN! Thanks so much for sharing your heartwarming story. It was so beautiful... I love how God allows our attention to be captured by people He would have us to touch... this is what were meant to do. And don't we all in the end just get so much more out of than the ones were helping?
    It really reminds me of a wonderful song by Matthew West off his album 'The Story of My Life', entitled 'In My Own Little World'.
    http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=912BMCNU

    Thanks for the interview and great question CARRIE, and JEN! I guess the thing that mostly made me aware of others needs was when my husband lost his job and we struggled to survive on about $70 a week for 3 people. There were only 2 friends that helped us to put food on our table occasionally during these many months. But GOD saw our needs and my tears, and one time when I couldn't even complete a shopping list to meet our needs with the funds we had, I looked and said, 'God, this is too hard.' Only moments later, a car pulled up and one of those dear friends dropped off a supermarket voucher for $100 into our mailbox!
    And even though the lack of love and help from church and everyone else broke my heart, God truly looked after us... even when I asked HIM for enough money to pay off our car loan so that things would be easier, God provided $10,000 within 2 wks through a win with a survey website.
    So when my husband found work again, we blessed others as much as we could although it was only part-time work he had. But we'd been in that place of barely eating and getting by and knew we had it SO much better even with a little more.
    Have a wonderful Christmas JEN!!

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    1. Thank you so much for your touching words, NOELA. I'm sorry to hear about your troubles, but it seems clear that God was there with you. I'll keep you in my prayers and hope that things continue to improve for you and your family.

      Also, thank you for enjoying my stories. Your support means the world to me.

      Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a year filled with peace.

      All the best,

      ~ JEN ~

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    2. Thanks JEN! It was a very difficult time for sure, but I can honestly look back and say I'm glad we went through it now, especially for the reason that he put it in our hearts to look outward more so!
      Oh and during that time, not everyone knew the full extent of our situation, so we have no hard feelings!
      And I'm also very thankful for hubby's part-time job because with CF and later, Fibromyalgia, he's able to help out so much more! God is in control!! :)

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    3. Wow, Noela, God really provided for you! God bless those wonderful friends who helped out, too! Hugs!

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  19. Great post. The story about the homeless man realm touched me. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Love stories about angels among us, Pat! Thanks for coming by!

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    2. Thank you for stopping by, PAT.

      Wishing you a very Merry Christmas!

      All the best,

      ~ JEN ~

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  20. Thank you for sharing. That was truly beautiful. *reaches for tissure*

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    1. Thank you so much, CECY, for taking a moment to leave a comment.

      Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas!

      All the best,

      ~ JEN ~

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  21. Yes I have! I went through a VERY dark time when I realized I was writing for just me, and what I could get from it. It took some time and I am SO thankful God is SO patient, and now I am blogging for Him!!! I have wanted to read and review your books for sometime now Jen :)! Hopefully I can get my hands on one!

    Christmas Blessings!!! Isaiah 9:6

    Amada (pronounced: a.m.a.th.a) Chavez

    amada_chavez{AT}yahoo{DOT}com

    Exodus 14:14

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    1. Amada, I have a number of friends who wrote in the secular market, and my first novel (unpublished, thank God) was a secular one, too, and the comment has been of how the writing needed to be for God and not for the world nor, as you point out, for ourselves. Blessings!

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    2. Thank you so much for sharing, AMADA, and what a beautiful name you have. In case you're in the mood for a short story - Gentleman of Her Dreams is still available as a free download - you can find in on Amazon, Barnes & Noble or just go to the Bethany House facebook page and click on e-book specials - that will direct you.

      Hope you have a wonderful Christmas and good luck with your writing.

      All the best,

      ~ JEN ~

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  22. Thank you; so beautifully written and experienced. Psalm 119:111 is my favorite Scripture: "Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart." I got excited when I read you first were aware of the man and knew it, but not why. Then, the additional pies ~ given just for him. How the Lord cares for our needs. And the smile you gave to the counter girl. So needed. It's in the little things of taking time and noticing those around us, as you did. But first you became aware of them. It's like we feel the Lord there. Merry Christmas! Kathleen FFH7 ~*~ it is all expressed in kindness
    lanehillhouse[at]centurylink[dot]net

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    1. Dear KATHLEEN,

      Thank you so much for your lovely comments. Life really is all about kindness.

      Wishing you a very Merry Christmas!

      ~ JEN ~

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    2. Thanks, Carrie, for such a beautiful interview with Jen. What a story! It brought me to tears! I had the pleasure of meeting Jen in Dallas at the ACFW conference. She has the most gorgeous head of hair I've ever seen. Reading this I now know her hair is a minor reflection of the beauty inside. And yes, God reaches out to me regularly to remind me of my self-centeredness, usually in church for when I pick up His Word. Merry Christmas to you both.

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    3. Honestly, MARY, now you're bringing me to tears. Thank you for your gracious words, and it was a pleasure meeting you in Dallas.

      Merry Christmas!

      ~ Jen ~

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